India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world’s largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
The decision, the government said on Saturday, was taken at a high-level meeting where Modi reviewed the status of COVID-19 and vaccine preparedness across states and union territories.
“After the detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc, the COVID-19 vaccination will start from 16th January 2021,” it said.
After healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, together numbering around 27 crore, a government statement said.
According to the Health Ministry guidelines on COVID-19 vaccination, the latest electoral roll for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections will be used to identify the population aged 50 years or more. The prime minister said that India will take a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19 on January 16.
“Starting that day, India’s nationwide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis (sanitation workers,” Modi tweeted. The prime minister is scheduled to interact with chief ministers of all states via video conferencing on Monday where they will discuss the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination roll-out.
India had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines, Oxford’s Covishield being manufactured by Serum Institute in India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Both vaccines, the statement from the Health Ministry said, have established safety and immunogenicity.